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A robot which moves on a ball

Thursday January 26, 2012 10:33:26 AM, IANS

New Delhi: Rezero, a robot that moves on a ball, was unveiled here Wednesday. Crafted by a team of Swiss engineers and designers, the ballbot follows people around and can carry heavy loads with a grace of an ice-skater.

Ballbots are robots designed to move on a single sphere instead of wheels. This allows for omnidirectional, organic motion, exceptional agility and manoeuverability unlike other robots which usually have a linear motion.

Members of the team and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETH, Zurich) students, Thomas Kammermann and Jerome Kaser, talked to reporters about Rezero at the Swiss embassy here.

"While designing Rezero, the main focus was on refining the technology. Developing the applications comes later," Kammermann told IANS.

"Rezero moves on a hollow, specially coated aluminium ball and 3 omni-wheels powered by space-grade motors for powering the locomotion. The bot uses microprocessor-based systems to communicate with the operator and a laser-based radar system to lock onto someone (or something) to follow," said Kammerman.

Rezero's very small footprint and dynamic stability made it particularly suited for applications in narrow, crowded and dynamic environments.

"This design is very suitable for applications such as carrying medical equipment or surveillance in crowded areas and since this is a dynamically stable system, its stability gets better as the centre of gravity gets higher. This means, the Rezero gets more stable as more load is piled on it," Kammerman said.

According to Kaser, the focus of design was agility and stability.

"Currently, Rezero can move at a top speed of 3.5 metres per second and has been tested to bear loads up to 20 kilos so far," said Kaser.

Ballbot is not a new concept but Rezero has been making news in robotics circles for its next generation performance. The next stop for the 13-member team is Kanpur where they will exhibit Rezero in Techkriti, the tech-fest of IIT Kanpur.




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